Streams in the Desert

Providing “a Place to Call Home”

Stories

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen . . . That you bring to your house the poor who are cast out?” Isaiah 58:7

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen . . . That you bring to your house the poor who are cast out?” Isaiah 58:7

Personal Stories

Helen Mears - the Beginning

Helen’s own story started at the Diplomat Hotel in Jerusalem.

The vision of Streams in the Desert began at the Diplomat Hotel. It was being used as an absorption centre for about 1,300 people, i.e. temporary housing for new olim (immigrants), especially from the former Soviet Union.

Helen worked there as a volunteer nurse alongside the social workers from 1992-1994. Elderly people could not walk the streets looking for flats like the younger ones could. They were stuck, there was nowhere to go, and the government waiting list for housing was very lengthy. Helen remembers when the Lord spoke to her early in 1994, saying He wanted her to provide the housing. It was an extreme shock, but she knew the Lord had spoken. She also knew that she didn’t have the skills to do it. As the saying goes – the Lord equips those He calls, rather than calling those already equipped. That way, the Lord gets the glory!

In later years the Diplomat Hotel was changed into social housing, but still under the Ministry of Absorption. Occupancy was reduced to around 500.

In 2014 the US Embassy bought the building, as it was adjacent to their new consulate in Jerusalem. The residents will have to move out at the latest by 20 June 2020. So where will they go???????

New immigrants Solomon and Esther touring Israel.

Esther and Solomon made aliyah from Russia in 2003, coming directly to our house, Beit Haverim. Beit Haverim means House of Friends in Hebrew.

Events of World War II had brought this lovely couple together in Sverdlovsk (now called Yekaterinburg) in central Russia. Esther was an evacuee from Minsk, and Solomon had fled from a shtetl in Poland.

Esther was a teacher of Russian Language and Literature, and Solomon an electro-mechanical engineer. They married in 1953. Esther was very creative, and her artwork was exhibited for years in their home city of Degtyarsk. One of their two daughters moved to Israel, and with the offer of a place in our home they decided eventually to go too. It took a series of real miracles to fulfil this, but they finally arrived in May 2003.

Solomon struggled with his health. Despite that, he and Esther initiated a Shabbat Celebration for the residents each Friday afternoon. Esther lit the Shabbat candles, taught from the Bible readings of the week, and Solomon led Kiddush with the bread and the wine. They all sang songs in Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew, accompanied by Esther on the accordion or keyboard. The majority of the residents attended regularly and were very appreciative.

The presence of such a precious couple as Solomon and Esther brought a “normality” to the home where we had so many single people. Solomon was a gentle, quiet man, and Esther was a bright, cheerful person with a very positive outlook. They were always so grateful for their home with us, and all that was done for them, and they took every opportunity to tell other people.

There is a thread of God’s love and protection leading through the lives of Esther and Solomon, and of Divine appointments that brought them back to the Land of their Fathers.

Esther and Solomon are now with the Lord. They are truly missed, and we thank God for the privilege of having known them.

Psalm 139:16 says: You saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began. (GNB)

Maria walked the streets of Moldova to avoid her alcoholic daughter who would beat her and steal from her when she was drunk. In 2001 her plight was brought to our attention, and we quickly processed her to come to Israel. “If it wasn’t for you, I’d be dead by now!” Maria said seriously after she arrived.

In 2005 Maria was diagnosed with cancer. She loved us to pray with her. Eventually she became so poorly she had to be admitted to hospital in Jerusalem. I will never forget seeing her seated out in the chair, supported by pillows, sharing a joke with Valentina – in Russian, of course. I bent down and looked her straight in the eyes, and said in Russian, “I don’t understand!” Maria, despite being so ill, suddenly burst into the biggest grin as we shared the moment together, a moment I shall never forget as her lovely smile shone through her suffering. I only saw her once more, as I had to return to the UK. Maria went to Glory on the eve of Hanukkah, 12 December 2006.

We all missed her. Morka her cat and Beamer the dog also missed her, for Maria always cared for them – she spent much time nursing Beamer back to health after his road accident. The love that she received – she passed on.

Our lives were enriched by knowing Maria, and I am very thankful to God that He brought such a special treasure to us. In Genesis 12:3 God said to Abraham He would bless those who bless him – and indeed we are truly blessed

Arkadi darning his sock. One of five children, Arkadi was born in 1923 in a shtetl in Ukraine.

His family barely survived the severe Soviet famine of 1932-33 when one brother died of hunger.

Arkadi’s graduation on 22 June 1941 was cancelled as at 6 am that morning Nazi Germany invaded Russia.

His family managed to escape the advancing German troops, who massacred 28,000 Jews from his home town.

Before long he was conscripted into the Soviet Army, was wounded twice, and sent onto the battlefields three times. Surely God’s hand of protection must have been on him to survive all this.

He married in 1947, and they moved to live with his wife’s parents in Kazakhstan.

As the doors opened for Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union, one daughter decided to make aliyah in 1990, and his second daughter and her family moved to Israel in 1995, taking Arkadi and his wife with them. They made their home in Beit Shemesh.

Sadly Arkadi’s wife died of a heart attack in 2002. No longer able to afford the apartment on his single pension, he applied to Valentina, our administrator, for a room at Beit Haverim, and spent most of the next nine years with us.

Arkadi with his medals.

Arkadi liked to say the Jewish prayers; the Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbat was the highlight of the week for him, and he assisted Esther when necessary. He had a strong voice and enjoyed singing the old Yiddish and Russian songs.

He moved to a hostel for elderly people, still able and willing to darn his own socks! He passed away at the age of 92 after four years there.

Personal Stories

Helen Mears - the Beginning

Helen’s own story started at the Diplomat Hotel in Jerusalem.

The vision of Streams in the Desert began at the Diplomat Hotel. It was being used as an absorption centre for about 1,300 people, i.e. temporary housing for new olim (immigrants), especially from the former Soviet Union.

Helen worked there as a volunteer nurse alongside the social workers from 1992-1994. Elderly people could not walk the streets looking for flats like the younger ones could. They were stuck, there was nowhere to go, and the government waiting list for housing was very lengthy. Helen remembers when the Lord spoke to her early in 1994, saying He wanted her to provide the housing. It was an extreme shock, but she knew the Lord had spoken. She also knew that she didn’t have the skills to do it. As the saying goes – the Lord equips those He calls, rather than calling those already equipped. That way, the Lord gets the glory!

In later years the Diplomat Hotel was changed into social housing, but still under the Ministry of Absorption. Occupancy was reduced to around 500.

In 2014 the US Embassy bought the building, as it was adjacent to their new consulate in Jerusalem. The residents will have to move out at the latest by 20 June 2020. So where will they go???????

New immigrants Solomon and Esther touring Israel.

Esther and Solomon made aliyah from Russia in 2003, coming directly to our house, Beit Haverim. Beit Haverim means House of Friends in Hebrew.

Events of World War II had brought this lovely couple together in Sverdlovsk (now called Yekaterinburg) in central Russia. Esther was an evacuee from Minsk, and Solomon had fled from a shtetl in Poland.

Esther was a teacher of Russian Language and Literature, and Solomon an electro-mechanical engineer. They married in 1953. Esther was very creative, and her artwork was exhibited for years in their home city of Degtyarsk. One of their two daughters moved to Israel, and with the offer of a place in our home they decided eventually to go too. It took a series of real miracles to fulfil this, but they finally arrived in May 2003.

Solomon struggled with his health. Despite that, he and Esther initiated a Shabbat Celebration for the residents each Friday afternoon. Esther lit the Shabbat candles, taught from the Bible readings of the week, and Solomon led Kiddush with the bread and the wine. They all sang songs in Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew, accompanied by Esther on the accordion or keyboard. The majority of the residents attended regularly and were very appreciative.

The presence of such a precious couple as Solomon and Esther brought a “normality” to the home where we had so many single people. Solomon was a gentle, quiet man, and Esther was a bright, cheerful person with a very positive outlook. They were always so grateful for their home with us, and all that was done for them, and they took every opportunity to tell other people.

There is a thread of God’s love and protection leading through the lives of Esther and Solomon, and of Divine appointments that brought them back to the Land of their Fathers.

Esther and Solomon are now with the Lord. They are truly missed, and we thank God for the privilege of having known them.

Psalm 139:16 says: You saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began. (GNB)

Maria, the lady with the lovely smile.

Maria walked the streets of Moldova to avoid her alcoholic daughter who would beat her and steal from her when she was drunk. In 2001 her plight was brought to our attention, and we quickly processed her to come to Israel. “If it wasn’t for you, I’d be dead by now!” Maria said seriously after she arrived.

In 2005 Maria was diagnosed with cancer. She loved us to pray with her. Eventually she became so poorly she had to be admitted to hospital in Jerusalem. I will never forget seeing her seated out in the chair, supported by pillows, sharing a joke with Valentina – in Russian, of course. I bent down and looked her straight in the eyes, and said in Russian, “I don’t understand!” Maria, despite being so ill, suddenly burst into the biggest grin as we shared the moment together, a moment I shall never forget as her lovely smile shone through her suffering. I only saw her once more, as I had to return to the UK. Maria went to Glory on the eve of Hanukkah, 12 December 2006.

We all missed her. Morka her cat and Beamer the dog also missed her, for Maria always cared for them – she spent much time nursing Beamer back to health after his road accident. The love that she received – she passed on.

Our lives were enriched by knowing Maria, and I am very thankful to God that He brought such a special treasure to us. In Genesis 12:3 God said to Abraham He would bless those who bless him – and indeed we are truly blessed

One of five children, Arkadi was born in 1923 in a shtetl in Ukraine.

His family barely survived the severe Soviet famine of 1932-33 when one brother died of hunger.

Arkadi’s graduation on 22 June 1941 was cancelled as at 6 am that morning Nazi Germany invaded Russia.

His family managed to escape the advancing German troops, who massacred 28,000 Jews from his home town.

Before long he was conscripted into the Soviet Army, was wounded twice, and sent onto the battlefields three times. Surely God’s hand of protection must have been on him to survive all this.

He married in 1947, and they moved to live with his wife’s parents in Kazakhstan.

As the doors opened for Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union, one daughter decided to make aliyah in 1990, and his second daughter and her family moved to Israel in 1995, taking Arkadi and his wife with them. They made their home in Beit Shemesh.

Sadly Arkadi’s wife died of a heart attack in 2002. No longer able to afford the apartment on his single pension, he applied to Valentina, our administrator, for a room at Beit Haverim, and spent most of the next nine years with us.

Arkadi liked to say the Jewish prayers; the Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbat was the highlight of the week for him, and he assisted Esther when necessary. He had a strong voice and enjoyed singing the old Yiddish and Russian songs.

He moved to a hostel for elderly people, still able and willing to darn his own socks! He passed away at the age of 92 after four years there.

Sign up for our Newsletter